Most of my posts these days end up on Medium, so you can find them here.
A trend? Not sure. But it could be that you lose agility and speed if you’re tied to a big owner or the tight rules of the stock market. Research has shown that companies get less innovative post IPO.
Disruptive innovation requires the freedom to make radical decisions. Don’t let your owner structure hold you back.
Trying to keep up with posting one post a day to get the blog going and as part of the #blogg100 initiative by Fredrik Wass.
Think I’ve already missed
a few days one day but it’s really good to get some tempo in the posting. Will do my best to skip as few days as possible out of the 100.
All the posts about the unconference Social Sweden Web Camp (SSWC) got me thinking. If there are lessons to be learned for every business from SSWC, then what do you call a company that already knows these lessons and lives by their rules?
An uncompany, of course.
An uncompany has a community of ambassadeurs, fans and followers, not customers.
An uncompany sees itself as a platform for others to create on.
An uncompany lives by an ethos and values that its community shares.
What else does an uncompany do? Any thoughts?
Yet another Sweden Social Web Camp has come to its end.
And it was as beautiful as ever.
This was my third year on the Tjärö island in the Blekinge archipelago (I had to miss one year due to the birth of my daughter – a very good excuse if you ask me) and as I read through all the love coming from the participants and my old summaries and thoughts about the unconference (This is the Internet and What your company can learn from Sweden Social Web Camp) I am left to ponder: what exactly is it that makes this happening so special?
What’s the secret SSWC-sauce?
Because special it is. It’s almost a religious experience being there, including group singing, praising the almighty (web) and the burning of a wooden sheep(!). But, it’s all done tongue-in-cheek and the only reason to burn a wooden sheep in front of 440 people is of course so that you can tweet about it and share the experience.
But, it’s not just fun and games. As I wrote in What your company can learn from Sweden Social Web Camp I really do think there are important lessons for every business to understand what makes #SSWC tick. SSWC is a conference, but it provides more value at less cost than a traditional conference. More value and less cost is a sign of disruptive innovation, so let’s dig deeper into what makes SSWC so special.
- Tomas Wennström & Kristin Heinonen. We start off with the two persons at the center of the whole thing. Look up “nice couple” in the dictionary and there’s a good chance there’s a photo of these two there. Tomas & Kristin are the founders of the conference and form the very important function of community leaders for the whole thing. Their friendliness, common sense problem solving and warm humor sets the tone for the rest of us to follow.
- Not a product. A platform for sharing. This is the core of what sets SSWC (or any unconference) apart from a traditional conference. It’s not a prepackaged product with predefined speakers and topics. No, it’s a platform for the audience to become contributors and create the experience themselves. That’s why Joakim Green brings the SSWC flag each year. That’s why there’s an SSWC movie produced each year and even a book.
It’s on an island. The fact that the conference is mostly outside and on a small island leads to some interesting consequences. Everyone you meet on the island is part of the same experience. People also live in tents which forces everyone to be more down to earth (literally). There’s more sheep than suits and ties on the island. The island, the tents and the sheep make us all equal. The island is the big equalizer. (Note that this also repels certain type of people.)
- Swedish summer. August is the best time of the year in Sweden. Nuff said. Even when it rains it’s OK. We Swedes love this time of the year and being outside in nature to enjoy it. It’s part of our culture.
- Tjärö. The crew. The food. The setup. Everyone working on Tjärö help out making the experience for every participant as great as possible. They thus become the extended arms of Tomas and Kristin.
- The long tail on the web. Of course an internet conference wouldn’t be an internet conference without blogging, tweeting, bambusing or facebooking. The internet enables us to transcend place and time and connect over physical boundaries. We can share stories – blog posts such as this. We can relive the moment, long after it’s over – and prelive it before it happens.
That’s a few lessons from Sweden Social Web Camp. It may look like a weird camp for nerds but look deeper. There’s an important business lesson for any company looking to upgrade their business model to the 21st century hidden among the rocks, sheep and beautiful ocean water at Tjärö. The lessons learned above are lessons in modern marketing and business development. I highly recommend a visit next year.
The best way to understand what makes SSWC so special is after all to be there.
I love this definition of entrepreneurship:
Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.
Compare this to the following definitions of the word “innovation”:
“Change that creates a new dimension of performance.”
“The introduction of new goods (…), new methods of production (…), the opening of new markets (…), the conquest of new sources of supply (…) and the carrying out of a new organization of any industry”
“Innovation is a new element introduced in the network which changes, even if momentarily, the costs of transactions between at least two actors, elements or nodes, in the network.”
“The three stages in the process of innovation: invention, translation and commercialization.”
-Bruce D. Merrifield
So then what is the relationship between entrepreneurship and innovation? Two sides of the same coin? Perhaps. Entrepreneurship takes the perspective of the individuals or the organization that drives the change while the innovation is the change itself. While they are not the same they certainly walk hand in hand.
Startup Founders are connected like toes on a foot. Photo by me.
A “deadlock” is a state in a computer program where parts of the program is waiting for other parts to finish who in turn are waiting for the other parts. The result is a freeze where nothing happens. This has probably happened to your computer some time.
A similar situation can occur in early stage startups. Before a startup gets funding or revenue the only thing that drives it is the passion of the founders. But, the passion in every individual founder is deeply connected to the passion of the other founders. You need to have a passion balance equilibrium otherwise the startup will freeze just like the computer program!
As an example, you’re three founders, you get started, energy is high and you’re all excited to do this thing. Then after a while one of the founders starts drifting. Maybe her daytime job takes too much time. Maybe her spouse doesn’t like that she spends all her free time working on your startup. Maybe she just lost interest, the reason doesn’t matter but the fact is that you are now extremely close to a passive founder deadlock situation.
Her drain in energy will drain the other two founders as well. It’s Sunday evening and you have the choice between playing with your kids or working on your startup. Why should you sacrifice your spare time when the other founder don’t? You go play with your kids (a wise choice anyway). The startup dies.
The same situation can occur in later stages, when funds are limited. As long as your startup doesn’t have its wings in the air passive founder deadlock is probably your number one risk.
So, how do you prevent it? At the end of the day, you can’t. This is simply one of the facts of life for a startup. But you can limit the risk somewhat.
- Of course you should make sure you have written agreements between the founders. This sets the baseline of what you expect from each other. It should also describe how a breakup should be done.
- Too much administration can kill the passion too but some simple way of tracking who does what will help you see early on if someone is dragging behind. A Kanban board is an excellent tool.
- One rather extreme way is to define an equity value for each task that needs to be performed and then split the equity after the task has been done based on who contributed the most to finishing the task. With this approach all the founders together make a list of what needs to be done and decide on an equity value for each task. When the task has been done the founders meet to “split the boot” with the founder who contributed the most getting the most equity. The downside with this approach is that you will spend a lot of time arguing over who did what and how much they contributed but if it works out it’s probably the fairest way to do it.
- Do the startup alone is one way but the chance of success is even smaller with this option so this is not recommended.
- If you’re OK with not an equal split of equity you can appoint one of the founders as “CEO”, give her more equity and the authority to be the driver of the startup. It’s then her task to “hire” co-founders and pay them with equity for the work they do. This approach also has downsides.
- Of course the best way to solve this is to just simply get your wings in the air as soon as possible. You really should hate being in the startup phase.
What do you think is the best approach to prevent passive founder deadlock?
The machine and the man. Photo by me.
Automation is killing the job market, not China. That’s the message in this post recently posted on Hacker News.
I’m not sure I agree.
I can see two very clear trends when it comes to where new jobs are created.
One is the shift from industry jobs to service jobs.
Did you know that globally, farming has been the most common profession since basically the dawn of civilization up until about a decade ago? Now it’s service jobs.
Humans helping other humans, this is a type of jobs that will never go away because humans have qualities (“the golden scarcities“) that machines can never possess regardless of if they pass Turing tests or not.
Forget the factory worker, I want to see more hairdressers, singers, gardeners, interior decorators, designers, artists, coaches and ocularists.
The second is the bleeding edge of innovation and super-brands that have shorter and shorter lifespans. The share of the economy belonging to the mega-corps is decreasing. Smaller and faster is the way of the future. This is the era of the startup economy. The only thing that will remain big are the brands – mindshare.
So there you have it: services, super-brands and startups.
That’s what the economy will look like the next 50 years. Heck, it’s what it looks like today!
At least the part that’s working.
Sweden Social Web Camp is an unconference held on an island in the Blekinge archipelago in souther Sweden. I’ve written about it before so this time I will just post a few photos I took. Perhaps I will get back with a longer post for this years edition, there was a lot to digest.
These are the ones I took and that I’m pleased with.
Jocke in the tree.
All the photos (except two that didn’t upload for some reason) are also on Google+.
“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.”
– Henry David Thoreau